The Trump administration is urging colleges not to consider race in their admissions process, reversing an Obama-era guideline that encouraged affirmative action to boost diversity.
The move, reported by multiple news outlets, restores the policy under then-President George W. Bush that encouraged “race-neutral methods” in college admissions.
Plans to launch the new policy were first reported Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal.
The Justice and Education departments will simultaneously issue the new guidelines.
The Supreme Court held that universities may use affirmative action to help minority applicants get into college. Critics contend the practice has gone too far and can now discriminate against white people and Asian-Americans.
Democrats assailed the policy reversal as racist.
Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, called it “shameful” to end the Obama administration’s guidelines.
“Yet again Donald Trump is showing his insecurity by targeting benign actions taken by the Obama administration to help bring modest positive changes to this country,” the Louisiana Democrat said. “If Barack Obama said the sky was blue, this current president would find a way to proclaim that it was in fact green.”
Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said the policy was an affront to American values of diversity and inclusion.
“The Trump administration isn’t just willfully blind to the reality of systemic racism — it’s coldly indifferent to its destructive consequences, and it’s absolutely committed to dismantling any efforts to address our nation’s original sin,” he said.
Mr. Perez added that giving everyone a “fair shot” at higher education should be an election issue that benefits Democrats in November.
The policy rollout coincides with the Justice Department investigating Harvard University’s alleged discrimination against Asian-American students by holding them to a higher standard in the admissions process. The probe was revived last year after the Obama administration dismissed a similar complaint.
The current investigation is based on a complaint by more than 60 Asian-American organizations that accuse Harvard University of using admissions policy to limit acceptance of Asian-Americans.
Vanita Gupta, who led Justice’s civil rights division under former President Barack Obama’s Democratic administration, criticized the Trump administration policy.
“This guidance restated the law and our national commitment to diversity. The retraction reflects that the DOJ no longer has that commitment,” she wrote in a Twitter post.
Her former colleague, Anurima Bhargava, who was head of the department’s civil rights enforcement under Obama, was cited by the Wall Street Journal as saying: “The law on this hasn’t changed, and the Supreme Court has twice ruled reaffirming the importance of diversity.”
“This is a purely political attack that benefits nobody,” she told The Wall Street Journal.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.
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